Special unit to catch officials involved in drug trafficking

Special unit to catch officials involved in drug trafficking

Team will work alone, not with other agencies

Narotics Control Board secretary-general Panurat Lakboon elaborates on his March 11 order forming a special unit to catch corrupt government officials involved in drug trafficking, during a media briefing on Monday. (Screenshot)
Narotics Control Board secretary-general Panurat Lakboon elaborates on his March 11 order forming a special unit to catch corrupt government officials involved in drug trafficking, during a media briefing on Monday. (Screenshot)

The Office of the Narcotics Control Board has set up a special unit to investigate and arrest government officials in border areas involved in the illicit drug business.

ONCB secretary-general Pol Lt Gen Panurat Lakboon told reporters on Monday he had received many complaints about government officials in border areas being involved in drug trafficking.

On Monday morning he had signed an order setting up a 14-strong team to investigate and arrest corrupt government officials in border areas, he said. He showed the order. It did not include the names of the 14 officers on the team. 

"We have been informed that so many government officials, especially those working along the border in the Northeast, are involved... Without the suppression of such officials, local residents will not cooperate with the government's anti-drugs policy," the ONCB secretary-general said.

Arrests would lead to prosecution, not to disciplinary action, Pol Lt Gen Panurat said.

"Tools in all dimensions including investigation of financial transactions will be applied to facilitate such arrests," he said.

The ONCB was implementing the project alone and not in cooperation with other government agencies. If the ONCB referred suspects to other agencies, the undertaking may not be effective, Pol Lt Gen Panurat said.

"Without such a change, we will always lose in our battle against drugs," he said.

The team's assignment would also include looking for any ONCB officials who may be involved in the drug business. "We must also clean our own house," the ONCB secretary-general said.

The team would base its actions on hard evidence and witness testimony. It would not abuse its authority and persecute any officials, he said.

Pol Lt Gen Panurat said he was not afraid the operation might lead to conflict with other government agencies. The ONCB gave priority to the national and the public interest.

Pol Lt Gen Panurat said the many complaints included that officials stored smuggled drugs near the border for distribution, transported drugs themselves and acted as lookouts supporting drug trafficking.

The knowledge that corrupt officials were working with drug traffickers discouraged local people from cooperating with the ONCB, Pol Lt Gen Panurat said.

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